What is the Business & IP Centre doing with social media?

WebinFeb logoWe are just one day away from our Web in Feb month of Social Media activities, where you can;

* Navigate the world of social media and make it work for you
* Get your site noticed by Google
* Write a blog, record a podcast, set up a website
* Avoid the legal pitfalls of doing business online
* Translate the jargon and gain the confidence to use the web effectively.

Frances Taylor who manages our Social Media activities here in the Business & IP Centre has kindly agreed to be interviewed about what we have been up to.

What is the Business & IP Centre doing with social media?
We have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter as well as more niche social network sites like UnLtdWorld (for social enterprises) and Smarta (for entrepreneurs).

Over the last few years we have also had fun experimenting with video, podcasts, webcasts and wikis, to find new ways of helping our customers find business information and advice.  This week we’re looking into Quora, a new Q&A social network.

We have a full list of the sites we have a presence on.

How do you decide which social media channels to use?
Our target audience for the Business & IP Centre includes entrepreneurs and small businesses; we researched which social media channels they use and focused on these.  Entrepreneurs are increasingly using social media to network, promote their products and engage with their customers. To gain the most impact, we also focused on the bigger, more popular social networking sites, due to their potential reach.

To be honest, it has also been a case of experimenting and seeing what works. All the social media sites have proved useful to us in different ways:

–    Facebook has helped us to spread the word about our events programme and provides a group space for entrepreneurs to network. One of our proudest social media moments was when we advertised an event via Facebook and it filled within three hours.

–    LinkedIn is a place for quality business discussions and networking with other professionals.

–    YouTube has helped us to raise awareness of our ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurs’ events and take advantage of all the Library’s high-profile speakers, from Stelios to Lord Sugar.

–    Twitter has become one of the most important sites to the Centre.  As well as helping us to spread the word about our services, it helps us to stay in touch with our partners, case studies and customers and find out about all the latest issues. It’s the place to go for small business news.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your social media activity?
Social media is notoriously difficult to evaluate, however these are the things we aim to measure:

–    Number of followers/ people engaged with our brand
–    Number of quality conversations/ interactions
–    Qualitative examples of how we have engaged with customers via social media
–    Referrals to our website
–    Number of people that use our service as a result of social media sites
–    Time and resource spent to implement.

It’s important to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of your social media activity, particularly since it can be quite time consuming.

Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs looking to use social media for their business?
Definitely. I’d recommend the following:
–    Think carefully about who your target audience is, and then work out what social media sites they use, and what for.
–    You don’t have to be everywhere – it’s better to have a strong presence on one social network than to spread yourself too thinly.
–    A lot of social media sites revolve around sharing content and information.  Think about what content and expertise you have that you can share with others, from tips to video content and ‘behind the scenes’ photos.
–    Social media is all about interacting with others. Make sure that you spend time listening and engaging with everyone online, rather than just promoting yourself.
–    You can stay informed of the latest trends in social media and digital marketing through sites like Mashable and econsultancy.

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